— Days Without Shea —

When Loge13 first launched way back on March 12, 2007, I decided to select as a nom de plume something that would pay tribute to one of my favorite Mets.

Hence Kingman.

I presumed this simple act and the massive traffic Loge13 was expected to attract would finally give Kong his due. We did have good traffic days in those early years when we fought to keep Shea standing, but sadly Kingman's stock never rose.

Thanks to David Einhorn and his money, however, that may change. As we mentioned last week, Einhorn was a huge Met fan and even dressed as Dave Kingman for Halloween.  This led the WSJ to ask "You Dressed As...Who?" A great article with a Kingman interview. Check it out:

Walking through the Mets Hall of Fame and Museum at Citi Field, you'd never know Dave Kingman played for the team. His face isn't among the busts on the wall. And among the items on display, which range from World Series trophies to Wally Backman's old luggage tag, there's nothing from Kingman.

After an exhaustive search of the ballpark, we finally found him on a wall near the entrance to the umpires' dressing room. But it's not exactly a loving tribute. He's one of six players pictured on an enlarged cover of the Mets' 1983 yearbook.

But last week, when David Einhorn announced he was in talks to buy a minority share of the team, he dragged the slugger they called "Kong" out of the mists of Mets obscurity. To demonstrate his allegiance to the Mets as a child growing up in New Jersey, he offered up a 1975 photo of himself dressed as Kingman for Halloween.

Had he been born a few years earlier, Einhorn might have picked Tom Seaver. Had he been born a few years later, he might have picked Darryl Strawberry. Kingman is about the last idol anyone would have expected.

But among Mets fans, Einhorn's choice of hero has had an unexpected effect: It has helped to bolster his Mets street cred. If Einhorn wanted to convince fans this is more than a financial investment to him, the Kingman photo was a nearly perfect play.

Who but a true Mets fan would fondly remember a largely forgotten player from an easily forgettable era? "All I can say is I'm very flattered," Kingman said by phone Wednesday from his home in Lake Tahoe, Nev. "We didn't really have great times when I was there."

Kingman played for the Mets from 1975 to 1977 and again from 1981 to 1983. The Mets were at the pinnacle of irrelevance then, a decade removed from their first championship and still years away from their second. They finished with a winning record in only two of the seasons Kingman spent with them and lost more than 90 games three times.

"The Mets wanted to win as bad as the Yankees did," Kingman said. "But it was an era where the Yankees were winning everything."

Kingman played outfield and first base, but he had only one discernible skill: the ability to mash a baseball. He would either hit a mammoth home run or strike out trying, with relatively few exceptions. Kingman's 154 home runs as a Met place him fifth on the club's all-time list. His 672 strikeouts also rank sixth. He never finished with a batting average higher than .238 with the Mets.

But when he made contact with the ball, it was a sight to behold. "Everybody remembers the championship teams and the years the Mets won," Kingman said. "But the home run is a big part of baseball. People do like home runs and I did hit a few out of Shea [Stadium]."

Einhorn is one of them. Although he declined through a spokesman to comment Wednesday, his mother, Nancy, said the family often attended Mets games during the 1970s. For David, it was an outlet for his love of statistics. He not only knew players' batting averages, his mother said. He calculated them himself.

On Halloween night in 1975, he took one of his father's white undershirts and, with a blue marker, turned it into a Kingman jersey. "I don't know why he settled on Dave Kingman, but Dave Kingman was his guy," Nancy Einhorn said.

Kingman, now 62 years old, spends his days hunting and fishing. He hasn't attended a Mets game since the team invited him to the closing of Shea Stadium in 2008. But if Einhorn eventually takes over as majority owner, he may have good reason to visit Citi Field.

Dave Kingman Day may not be far off.

[June 3, 2011 10:33 AM]  |  link  |  reply
ncb1gdog said

I remember the Kingman days quite well. He was our sole power threat back then, especially in his first stint with the club. More than his strikeouts, I remember the mammoth foul balls he would hit for an out. The fielder usually had time to go into the stands, order a hot dog & soda, eat it, then return to his spot to eventually catch the ball. LOL

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